Cramer & Anderson Founding Partner Hank Anderson Dies at 101

Cramer & Anderson Founding Partner Henry B. "Hank" Anderson died June 22, 2019, at his home in Brewster, Mass.
Cramer & Anderson Founding Partner Henry B. “Hank” Anderson died June 22, 2019, at his home in Brewster, Mass. (January 2018 photo)

Henry “B.” Hank Anderson, a founding partner of Cramer & Anderson LLP, died  June 22 at home in Brewster, Mass., where he lived with his wife “Bunny” (Theresa Virginia). He was 101.

Services will be held at a later date, according to an obituary published June 30 in The News-Times, which said donations may be made in Anderson’s name to The Miracle Foundation, P.O. Box 7338 Garden City, N.Y. 11530. Online condolences may be left at www.nickersonfunerals.com.

See Our 2018 Tribute Story:
Cramer & Anderson Founding Partner Hank Anderson Looks Back at His Life and Illustrious Legal Career

“The passing of Hank Anderson was the end of an era, not only for Cramer & Anderson but for the Bar here in Connecticut,” said Partner Art Weinshank. “His personal accomplishments and prominence gave such stature to the firm and made us more than a local Litchfield County law firm.”

Anderson served as president of the Litchfield County Bar Association, and was a Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Association and American Bar Association, among many statewide and national roles.

He served for a decade on the Grievance Committee for Litchfield County, and was a member of a statutory group that supervised distribution of funds by legal service organizations in Connecticut, as well as serving on the Executive Committee of the Connecticut Probate Assembly.

Anderson also served on a Real Property Committee of the National Conference of Bar Examiners from 1974 to 1985, drafting real estate questions for bar examining committees throughout the nation. He was a lecturer on real estate law for the Connecticut Board of Realtors, and chairman of the Real Property Section of the Connecticut Bar Association.

Cramer & Anderson Founding Partner Henry B. "Hank" Anderson in 2009.
Hank Anderson in 2009.

“He was definitely dedicated to the law. I don’t know many people who wrote questions for the bar exam,” Attorney Weinshank said.

“Anderson was the recipient of numerous distinguished legal awards,” a UConn Law story recounted. “In 1989 he was voted Citizen of the Year by the State of Connecticut Courts of Probate. In 1990 The Connecticut Bar Association awarded him the John Eldred Shields Award for his professional services to the community at large—over 900 hours of pro bono services. He was also voted Probate Attorney of the Year by the Connecticut Probate Assembly.”

“No matter the demands upon him during the 42 years of his distinguished career, Henry B. Anderson has always made time to serve his profession and his community with brilliant ability and genuine compassion,” the Shields Award citation said.

The more than 900 hours of pro bono services cited in the Shields Award came from Anderson’s work on a difficult case. After Attorney and Danbury Judge of Probate Richard L. Nahley committed suicide on Nov. 20, 1987, Anderson was appointed a co-fiduciary of his last will and testament. Claims against Nahley’s estate exceeded $3 million, and for Anderson settling the estate involved disposition of lawsuits in the Danbury probate court, various superior courts, and the federal courts. Anderson made sure every legitimate claim was paid in full.

“It took a whole year to handle the Nahley case pro bono in an effort to make Mr. Nahley’s clients whole and to restore the public’s perception and confidence in the Connecticut Bar,” Attorney Weinshank said with admiration. 

In 2018, Anderson was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Connecticut Law Tribune. 

The sign for Cramer & Anderson  Founding Partner Hank Anderson's previous practice with Attorney Paul Altermatt.
Cramer & Anderson’s History

Cramer & Anderson was formed in 1962 when Anderson and Attorney Paul Altermatt joined their firm with Cramer, Blick, Fitzgerald & Hume. Originally based in New Milford and Litchfield, Cramer & Anderson has grown to include six offices in western Connecticut.

While 57 years old in its current incarnation, the firm led by Anderson—a decorated veteran of World War II Naval battles, lifelong scholar and connoisseur of travel, history, languages, and the arts—traces its lineage to before the Civil War. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Attorney David Cramer was a law partner to Attorney and Connecticut Judge John T. Hubbard, whose father, John H. Hubbard, called “Old Connecticut” by President Abraham Lincoln, began his Litchfield law practice in 1854.

Gardening and Other Pursuits

Anderson lived locally in Warren, Southbury, and Sherman, where he became the first town counsel in 1949, serving for approximately 20 years, as well serving as Judge of Probate.

It was also in Sherman that Anderson first became an avid gardener, which he continued in Warren and then in Brewster, Mass., after he and Bunny moved to Cape Cod in April 1999.

Peggy C. Geddes, a paralegal and the bookkeeper in Cramer & Anderson’s Litchfield office, who worked directly with Anderson in New Milford for several years in the 1990s, recalled being invited to the house in Warren.

“My husband also loved gardening and HBA had beautiful gardens and was very proud of them,” Geddes wrote in an email. “We always had a great visit. One of those visits led to us taking home some of HBA’s plants from his garden that he insisted we take with us, one of which is called ‘Goose Necks’, and they spread like crazy. They are starting to come out now in our gardens, and every time I look at them, I would always remember HBA’s kindness in sharing from his garden and sharing his knowledge of gardening.”

“When he retired to Cape Cod, we would visit him and Bunny as much as we could. Again, he had beautiful gardens and I was not surprised by that. … ,” Geddes added, while offering another reflection encapsulating Anderson’s character: “We would also remember each other’s birthdays. He always wrote me back a ‘thank you’ note when I sent him a birthday card, which I found amusing.”

Gardening was just one pursuit Anderson embraced with a passion. At Wesleyan—where Anderson was president of the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity chapter, captain of the wrestling team, and lettered in football and track—he majored in mathematics and minored in classics.

Anderson loved swing music, the jazz era and big bands, he was fascinated by ancient civilizations, and took numerous courses in Latin and Greek, visiting Greece, its Archipelago, and Italy, among other travels.

A self-taught linguist and amateur etymologist, Anderson amassed a library of dictionaries and atlases in English, Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

“Hank had many interests, especially history,” said Partner Robert L. Fisher, Jr. “For a period of time he was very interested in Palladian windows, so he researched everything he could find.”

Attorney Weinshank also recalled that Anderson, who would periodically send him recommended books, wrote a book on the card game bridge.

World War II

Anderson was at Wesleyan, working as Assistant to the Director of Admissions Victor L. Butterfield and studying for his master’s degree, when the war in Europe intensified. He entered the Navy as a midshipman in June 1941 and was commissioned as an ensign that September, just months before the Dec. 7 attack on Pearl Harbor.

After crash-course training in Chicago and then joining a squadron of reconnaissance planes in Virginia, Anderson was transferred to Naval Air Station Alameda in California shortly after Pearl Harbor in December 1941. In 1944, Anderson was transferred to the staff of Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, Commander of Task Force 58, the Fifth Fleet’s Fast Carrier Task Force, initially serving as the Awards Officer.

“The Japanese were desperate by 1945,” Anderson recalled in an interview last year. “They couldn’t win. They didn’t want to give up. So they turned to kamikaze attacks on the U.S. Pacific Fleet.”

On May 11, 1945, Anderson survived a kamikaze attack on the USS Bunker Hill, an aircraft carrier, and just days later on May 14, he was aboard another carrier, the USS Enterprise, when it suffered a kamikaze attack.

The remaining members of the staff were transferred to a third carrier, the Randolph, without incident. The flag secretary was killed by a kamikaze attack on May 11 and Anderson took the position.

Arleigh Burke, Chief of Staff to Admiral Mitscher, commended Anderson for organizing firefighting parties aboard the USS Bunker Hill on May 11 and he was awarded a Silver Star. In addition, for services rendered to Admiral Mitscher and his staff as flag secretary, Anderson was awarded a Bronze Star.

Cramer & Anderson Founding Partner Henry B. "Hank" Anderson outside the firm's New Milford, CT office in his Navy uniform.
Hank Anderson outside the New Milford office in his Navy uniform.

“He manned fire hoses and, according to Flag Admiral Arleigh Burke ‘Anderson … fought fires in the hangar deck and gradually, by pure guts and will power, brought them under control … and tended to the horribly wounded aboard the crippled carrier Bunker Hill,’” Partner Randy DiBella recounted.

“Working for Admiral Burke was one of the best jobs I ever had,” Anderson said. “He wanted everything done right and he wanted it done yesterday, and that was the way I was brought up.”

After the War

After the war ended, Anderson returned to Wesleyan to complete his master’s degree and simultaneously attended the University of Connecticut School of Law in West Hartford.

On the same day in June 1948, Anderson received his law degree at UConn in Storrs, and then travelled to Middletown to receive his master’s degree at Wesleyan.

The next challenge for Anderson was finding work as a young attorney.

“There wasn’t any attorney in New Milford who had enough work to be in a position to take on a subordinate,” Anderson recalled. “Harry Bradbury said, ‘Pay me $10 a week and you can have any office,’ and that’s how I started.”

The rest is Connecticut legal history.